Protect your pipes from freezing and bursting this winter


You probably already know that water expands when it freezes, but have you considered the consequences that this fact of nature could have on your home's water systems? The pipes that run to your kitchen, bathrooms, outside hoses, washing machine and more have to be protected from cold temperatures during the winter or you could face a messy and expensive situation.

In addition to properly insulating and caring for your pipes throughout the winter, you should invest in TotalProtect® Home Warranty. This will ensure you don't have to deal with unexpected maintenance costs, like those associated with busted water pipes. Besides the damaged pipes, you would likely have to deal with water damage and flooding. If you just moved into a new house, you can tell if there have been similar problems before based on mold or moisture buildup on the walls.

Although winter is underway, it's not too late to double-check the protection on your home's water pipes. Here are a few guidelines to consider.

Before the freeze
Depending on where you live, your pipes may be in more danger than you think. The Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety explained how homes built in northern regions often have pipes installed on the interior walls, while houses in warmer climates are more likely to have plumping running through the exterior walls. 

The pipes that are at risk include those in the basement, attic, under your house and in the exterior walls. Where possible, these pipes should be insulated with foam. When you add the insulation, make sure it's wrapped tightly so there isn't any space between the surfaces. Additionally, your basement needs to be completely closed up and weather sealed because many of your pipes likely originate there. Similarly, it's best to keep your garage doors closed as much as possible so pipes in the walls don't freeze.

Don't forget about the water lines that run to your outside faucets and the attached hoses. Hoses and spigots should be drained before the winter and it's best to turn off the water supply from inside. If a hose freezes and expands, it could push the pressure toward the pipes and cause damage.

During the freeze
If you're in the midst of a deep freeze, there are a few steps you can take to make sure water continues flowing through the pipes, according to Today's Homeowner. The best way to do so is by letting faucets drip consistently. Although your water bill will be a bit higher, the small amount of running water will help prevent the pipes from freezing and reduce the amount of pressure that builds in case they do. It's important that both the hot and cold pipes are activated for the drip, especially when the pipes are installed on the home's exterior. To maintain movement in your washing machine pipes, the source suggested running a short warm cycle periodically throughout the cold snap. 

For sinks with cupboards underneath that contain water pipes, you should keep the doors open so warm air circulates. Popular Mechanics recommended placing a space heater in front of the cabinet if the pipes are in an outside wall. You can use space heaters directly under pipes in the attic or crawl space as well.

The information in this article is intended to provide guidance on the proper maintenance and care of systems and appliances in the home. Not all of the topics mentioned are covered by our home warranty or maintenance plans. Please review your home warranty contract carefully to understand your coverage.